The hidden cost of technical debt

You won't succeed working on an old moldy laptop. Same goes for your SaaS software, eliminate your tech debt!
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Technical debt is more than just a technical issue; it's a growth stopper for SaaS companies. Many businesses fall into the habit of making fast decisions and taking shortcuts to be more timely. However, in many cases, ‘band-aid’ fixes cause an issue that manifests itself twofold down the track. Addressing technical debt should be a priority to avoid accumulating issues that prevent your company from scaling optimally.


Understanding technical debt

Technical debt refers to the long-term costs incurred by taking shortcuts or making trade-offs in your software development. This debt “accrues interest” — meaning it manifests as higher maintenance costs, reduced performance and capacity to scale, and other undesirable consequences (such as slower time-to-market) The longer you neglect this area, the more it builds up, and before long, your platform may become too heavy to comfortably maintain or upgrade in some way.

Identifying the weak spots

The first step to addressing technical debt is to identify the weak spots in your system. This might include outdated libraries, inefficient algorithms, or legacy code that no longer meets your needs. By ranking these issues based on their impact on scaling, stability, and security, you can prioritize which debts to tackle first.


Prioritizing and assessing technical debt

Once you've identified the weak spots, it's crucial to prioritize them. Start by assessing which issues pose the biggest risk to your scalability and security. Addressing these high-priority debts first ensures that you build a strong foundation for future growth.


Adopting Agile Development Practices

Rather than trying to build enterprise agility at one sweep, I would suggest you start practising agile development. Consider Scrum or Kanban for a starter. These methods divide the fixes into small steps, which enables your team to work on constantly fixing and enhancing the system along with building new capabilities. You can think of it as fixing the plumbing without flooding your entire house.

Refactoring and modernizing

Refactoring and modernizing your code are essential steps in eliminating technical debt. Refactoring means restructuring the code to make it perform better without altering its external behaviour. Modernization, on the other hand, adds more dimensions like updating frameworks, libraries, and technology stacks. In each instance, we eliminate current technical debt while also ensuring that scaling in the future will be easier.

Automating Testing and Deployment

Automation testing and deployment are necessary to manage technical debt. Implement unit tests, integration tests, and performance tests to catch issues early. Use Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines to streamline updates, reducing the likelihood of human error and ensuring more reliable releases.

Make It a Priority

Technical debt is a silent killer for SaaS companies. By identifying, prioritizing, and addressing technical debt, you can prevent it from stalling your growth. Remember, it's easier to pay the interest now than to deal with compounded problems later. Make technical debt a priority and set your company on the path to scalable success.

Is technical debt limiting your growth? Let’s fix it! 




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Written by: Leopold van Oosten, on June 5, 2024